Friday, June 25, 2004

Daiwa EuroTelcoblog No. 53: Friday, 25th June, 2004 -

Back at the beginning of the year we published a long piece (which is probably lining a large number of bird cages at this very moment) on the future direction of the sector. One issue we raised was that new forms of interaction are taking root on the internet which have the potential to capture a significant proportion of traditional voice communication, and in this context we argued that the social networking phenomenon probably had the potential to become a lot richer as an experience if it were married with some more advanced communication tools. This was a theme I repeated at the VON show recently. Today I happened to stumble across ( which seems on the surface to completely embody this concept. It contains the standard social networking features and tools, but also has a blogging tool and claims to enable both text-based IM and voice/video chat, all from a browser-based interface (provided the user's PC has a Flash plug-in). It features a token system for membership, wherein newcomers are issued 2,000 tokens, which entitle them to different lengths of free membership, depending on which level of membership is selected (more advanced features like video/audio IM will burn through the credits more quickly). In order to keep membership free, members must invite other users into the group to replenish their tokens. I have signed up (though I'm probably too old) and am going to give it a whirl. I have also made an attempt to contact the company and find out more about who is behind it and what runs it.

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